Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Welcome to the New Year...

...only 17 days late.


So January is flying by!  We had a big snowstorm last weekend that also kicked off the Martin Stomach Bug of 2017 (you hear that 2017?  You can't strike us again!).  I am not good with sick people, and especially sick kids who can't control their body fluids, so my anxiety normally goes through the roof when the bug passes around.  


But this time, we were in the midst of praying for Baby Joy and anytime I would start to feel really sorry for myself, Phil would remind me that the Lobodas only wished a stomach bug was their biggest problem right now.  Very true and it helped so much keeping it in perspective.  These brief illnesses are so hard but they make me value our health more and remind me to pray for those who suffer a lot longer that 24-48 hours.  


One thing Phil and I have been talking about a lot recently is how we spend our family time.  We used to get out of the house and do so many fun things with our oldest four kids - zoos, storytimes, museums, fairs, it seemed every weekend there was always something fun to do.  



But once those kids got older and started having sports/school/church events to attend and we added more littles to the mix, we stopped doing as much as a family for fun time.  We leave the house whenever we have a commitment to attend (which is all the time) but not so much to just go have fun together.  I know we are in this difficult season with a toddler and a newborn and I'm not feeling too guilty about that.  That's life.  


However, I know there are times I can make more of an effort to take the bigger kids to do something during naptime for the littles.  Or take the littles to do something age appropriate for them while the big kids have sports.  Anyway, it's just sort of an unofficial New Year's resolution.  Typing it here probably makes it more official.  I made good on it this weekend by taking the oldest five to an indoor pool with a water slide.  Maggie and Xander are members there for swimming lessons, and the sweet lady at the desk who saw me with five (gasp!) children said we could just use free guest passes for the rest of them.  That was so nice and ended up being such a fun-filled 2 hours of playtime with their cousins who met us there.  I can sleep so well at night on days like that.



As far as the dieting part of my New Year's resolution.  Well I am just not finding the gumption to make it happen.  I've lost my mojo.  At first I thought it was because I was breastfeeding - I need calories!  I'm growing a baby!  I can't eat gassy veggies or beans so obviously I can't diet! - but now that's over and still no resolve.  My excuse now (that I stole from my husband) is that we're too sleep-deprived to diet, that maybe once the baby sleeps through the night we will feel more energized and not rely on carbs to make up for lack of shut-eye.  And sometimes, it's because I just don't care enough - I had seven babies!  I'm 37!  I'm happily married!  I can be chubby!  



Oy vey.  I think when I get my cholesterol checked at the end of the month might be eye opening for me and I'm scared.  Just not scared enough to stop eating chips and chocolate.  I think what would help me would be competition, so if anyone wants to shame me into it, speak up.

We all picked our Saints for the Year (using this link) and I told the kids they could give a presentation about their saint on their saint's feast day, and help me come up with a meal to go along with their saint's story.  Maggie is first up as she has St. Anthony the Abbot whose feast day is today!  She found out he lived in Egypt on bread and water, but quickly shot down that dinner idea and looked up Egyptian foods, and we decided on a beef and veggie stew with some Naan bread.  I wanted to make falafels but the kids weren't sold.  The stew is in the crockpot and I'm looking forward to starting this new tradition tonight.   


I just hope when the kids look back at their childhood, they know they had two parents who love them very much, a fun time being with family, and the support of their siblings.  Their souls are not mine to keep and I want to cherish every borrowed minute I have with them.  In a realistic way ;)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Puppy Loves: Dry Dog Food, Dirty Socks, and Damp Diapers

Sooooo, we got a dog for Christmas! Are we crazy?  We've been asked many times, and apparently, yes!  Here's how it all went down...

1)

Sometime in September, Maggie and I went for a walk ("girl time") with the baby and she talked my ear off about dogs.  She shared which of her friends had dogs, which dog breed was the cutest in the world, and which dog even had his own book series.  I knew my daughter loved dogs, but I didn't know she was so into them.  It started my wheels turning, and I wondered if we really had any reason NOT to get a dog.

Phil and I had a conversation that night, and I think he was surprised that after years of saying we would never get a dog (another thing to feed and care for!) I was opening myself up to the possibility.  Call it a moment of weakness, call it temporary insanity, call it what you will...I was getting excited at the thought of our family having a pup.  And then I realized that if we could do it for Christmas, I wouldn't have to do too much Christmas shopping...the dog would be the big gift!  And that basically sold this tired mom of seven on the idea.

2)

A dog for Christmas, now what kind of dog did we want?  We researched breeds and spent so much time looking at sites like petfinder.com to find rescue dogs, only to fill out applications and follow leads to then be turned away because we had too many children, too many young children, a cat, worked outside the home, or no fenced in yard.  It was maddening.  These dogs need a good loving home, with people to play with, good food, and lots of exercise.  We could provide all that!  These dogs were homeless!  But we kept running into dead ends and eventually just started looking at breeders.  Of course, when you go that route, you have to be very careful of puppy mills, and we talked to a bunch of breeders and googled their names/company's names to determine if they were legit.  The whole search was exhausting.  Down in Amish country, there were a LOT of puppy mills, just an FYI.

3)

Finally we settled on getting a Havanese dog.  The Havanese are small, hypoallergenic, and smart dogs that don't need tons of space and are very loyal.

Cute little doggie


We had quite a few leads with some Havanese breeders, but we couldn't find one that was older than newborn pup and younger than 2.  Those were our age requirements.  I know it sounds picky, but we decided if we couldn't get exactly what made sense to our family then we weren't getting a dog just to get a dog.  If we couldn't find one before Christmas, then we were just going to postpone the whole thing,  We knew this "purchase" wasn't a one day gift, this was a lifetime family member and we didn't want to settle.  We learned that Phil's uncle had a Havanese, and his friends were breeders!  We went that route only to discover they had retired from breeding, but had friends who were still in the business.  Those friends ended up not having any puppies for us, but knew of an older woman who had died and left behind a young Havanese!  We were so excited only to discover that the lady's family wanted to keep the dog.  There were tons of stories like this which would raise our hopes then dash them to pieces.  Not that I'm dramatic ;)  It wasn't looking good.

4)

Somehow in the countless hours of searching for our perfect pet, Phil started looking at the doodle breeds - labradoodles, goldendoodles, anything that was bred with a poodle to keep the shedding to a minimum.  We found a labradoodle about two hours away from us that was almost three years old and needed a new home.  Phil went to visit and just didn't have a great feeling about the place she had been raised in.  They had no vet records, she wasn't spayed, and she looked older than two. She was sweet though, she just didn't seem like the perfect fit.  But now we at least were open to a breed like her.  So we honed in on the doodle breeds, specifically the goldendoodle, as they seemed to be a perfect family dog that would work well for us.  A coworker of ours helped us out by giving us her contact for a goldendoodle breeder but they didn't have any in time for Christmas.  We started thinking maybe we could just give the kids a card that said "We're getting a dog!  At some point in the future!" but really hoped to actually give them a dog instead.

5)

Without knowing, Phil and I both found a goldendoodle breeder near Boston that looked promising.  We didn't mention it to each other for awhile because the price was high.  But she was a home breeder and the dogs lived in her house, not outside in a kennel, and you could tell she was in love with these animals.  Eventually I mentioned her to Phil and he remarked he had seen it to, so he called and had a long conversation with her.  She had five kids, all grown now, and thought a goldendoodle would work so well with our family.  And the best part is that she had 4 month old dogs for sale!  She is not too tech-savvy and just sells mostly by word of mouth, and had a couple of four month olds left from an August  10th litter.  We asked if there were any smaller ones, and any females, and she had one smaller female named Lady.  Phil went up to visit and knew Lady was the one.  Super sweet, but not yippy or nippy or jumpy as puppies can be.  He came home, we talked about it quickly and decided that this was the one.  We mailed a deposit and told the breeder to start calling her "Lucy" as Phil first met her on St. Lucy's Day.

6)

So we had found our dog!  Now to get ready to bring her home!  A generous coworker gave us a nice big crate and dog bed they no longer needed, the breeder told us she eats Nourish dog food, and we asked around to see what dog toys to have available for her.  The main consensus was a Kong, pigs ears, Nylabones, and small treats to train with.  We got the book Puppies for Dummies from my sister-in-law, and went on sites like wag.com (the sister site of diapers.com!) to gather our goodies.  I think I want to transition her off of the Nourish dog food and onto something easier to find, so any recommendations for dry dog food would be lovely.


7)

On Christmas Eve morning, Phil went to pick up Lucy and brought her straight to the vet for a checkup and some shots.  The plan was to keep her at my mom's house and then sister's house until Christmas morning, but upon seeing how nervous Lucy was away from her mom and siblings for the first time, Phil decided that we should just give her to the kids on Christmas Eve.  You can watch the (sometimes sideways) video here.  They were so excited but we shushed them as to not scare the dog, and although she was very weary the first day, she is totally part of the family now!  Lucy gets lots of walks and attention, and she's such a good soul.  If all goldendoodles are like her, then I can't recommend this breed enough!  She is learning how to sleep in her crate without crying/barking (it's been a couple sleepless nights around here between the twins - Brendan and Lucy) but it's getting better.  She seems to like dirty diapers and laundry (eeewww) but isn't too much of a pain otherwise.  We are so happy to have her and she seems to love us too (Phil and I especially because she ain't no fool).

Maggie's in heaven



The twins :)



Christmas Morning


Pre-grooming
Post-grooming


And that was the tail (ha!) of Lucy Doodle Martin.  We won Christmas this year and we'll never live up to that level of awesomeness again, but I'm okay with that.  Go see Kelly for more quick takes and See Ya 2016!  Hit me up with any puppy tips, please!!! 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

The kids got their big present yesterday (I apologize for the poor video quality, but I never went to school for it):



And some photos from last night and this morning:


 Now we're off to celebrate Christmas dinner with the rest of my family at my brother's house who is 50 today!  Happy Birthday Sean!!  And Merry Christmas to you all!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

7QT: The End of 2016 Edition

Let's wind down 2016 with a recap of each child...how perfect that there's seven...and that I have these fancy school photo proofs that I never ordered ;)

1)

John-Paul



My 8th grader who has turned into a man child this past year.  He's as tall (taller?) than me now and he even has had to shave his blond but bushy mustache.  He continues to read all the books in the house, and rereads his fave series: Michael Vey, Harry Potter, and Fablehaven.  He has the same tight knit group of friends since 6th grade when we switched schools that includes one boy and two girls.  He is still crushing hard on the same girl for the past 3 years as well.  He came to the high school where Phil and I work and spent a day as a student.  He loved it, which is a good thing because this is where he's coming!  He took the placement exam and we told him if he gets one of the top ten scores, he gets a new phone.  What he doesn't know is that he's getting a new phone anyway once we switch carriers ;)  Motivation, baby!  He's a wicked smart kid who definitely is lazy/distracted/disorganized when it comes to school.  Typical boy thing, methinks.  Yesterday in the car he told me he might not want to get into all honors classes because he doesn't want to get too stressed out about school.  And he wants to know the minimum requirement for sports seasons he needs to participate in (which is two) so he can plan that out as well.  On the other hand, he's aiming to continue running in the student council, and hopes to make the NHS as soon as possible.  It's like he wants to do just well enough, but not have to try too hard.  Which is basically what we tell him for every science fair: get an A but don't go qualify for state.  Ain't nobody got time for that!  He filled out an application to work at a local ice cream place for the summer and also one to referee soccer games in the fall, because we told him when he's 14 he needs to find a job.  We're cruel like that.  In the meantime, he's been helping out my Dad here and there on the downstairs remodel and babysitting for us.  He serves daily mass, Sunday mass, and Latin mass once a month, and is just as tall as the priests on the altar!  He's really a super great kid who literally gets lost in a book and is making this teenager thing look easy.

2)

Andrew


My 6th grader is thankfully not having any growth spurts yet.  Unlike his big brother, he does not have any friends that are girls (eeeeww) and does not like any girls (double eeeeww) and hates that all the girls like him ;)  He'll come around soon enough.  Andrew took to middle school with ease, as he is more naturally organized.  He is a star on the soccer field, basketball court, and wins 5k races like they ain't no thang.  The kid is just unbelievably athletically inclined.  He still hates reading, unless it's a sports fact book, or a Ripley's Believe it or Not, or a comic book.  He wears the crown for most dramatic in the house.  When he's mad, watch out!  And when he's "sick" we never know if it's real or just a man-cold.  Andrew also wears the best big brother crown in the house.  He is always always always looking out for his younger brothers, in particular.  He's the one holding their hand in the parking lot, offering to put them to bed, and roughhousing with them , much to their delight.  He's a good doobie who is happy as long as we let him play sports and eat lots at dinner.  He serves every Mass he attends, even the Latin ones, and is so reverent on the altar.  He is a competitive kid who does not like to lose, and does his best in every way possible.  Oh, and he has great hair ;)

3)

Eamon


My sweetheart 4th grader.  Eamon is following in Andrew's footsteps with loving all things sports.  He's a beast playing soccer and basketball, and follows every football team imaginable.  He is constantly asking me why he's not allowed to play football, and vows he will just play in college since I won't let him do it until then.  Eamon lives in a perfect Catholic bubble that allows him to want to be a priest and be celebrated for vocalizing that.  Between his home life, school life, and church life, everyone supports him and is praying for his vocation.  It's so important he has this as he is a quiet(ish) boy who could easily get embarrassed if something was said to go against his desires.  He is training to become a Latin mass server and is the bomb.com server at regular masses.  He loves bagels, and eats one pretty much every night before bed (slathered with tons of cream cheese) because he "needs to gain weight"!  Eamon used to hate reading, but has recently fallen in love with The Great Brain series and that makes Phil so excited.  He adores his big brothers, fights all.the.time with his sister, and loves playing with his little brothers.  He does not want a "hairstyle" because that means he would need to use gel, and then our pastor would poke fun at him using gel, and he wants to avoid all that.  Buzzcuts for lyfe.  This nugget is super easy to please and basically just a joy to have around.

4)

Maggie




Maggie my feisty 3rd grader.  Woosh this girl alternates between being so cute/helpful/loving and moody/whiny/difficult.  She has a sense of justice that rules her worldview, and will literally count what every body gets when it comes to food to make sure they all get the same number of carrot sticks or m & m's.  God forbid there's any unfairness in the distribution, because she will let you know.  I think she may make the perfect judge one day!  She is the first to tell me how pretty I look, or how much she loves my earrings, which keeps her alive one more day ;)  She is an avid reader, and wise beyond her years, just so very smart.  She played soccer on an all-girls team this year (as opposed to the coed team she used to play on) and she scored in just about every game.  We put her in swimming lessons to make sure she knew all the strokes, and she is actually a really great little swimmer.  Very fast and her strokes look awesome.  I'm trying to talk her into joining the swim team as I think swimming might be her sport for high school, but she wants to take a break to play basketball.  She is not Irish stepdancing this year, and doesn't seem to miss it (though I do!) and plans on running her first 5k this June, which is a switch after years of saying that running makes her cry :)  She loves doing anything art & crafty and is always leaving us little love notes.  She enjoys doing anything with just me or another female friend and calls it "girl time" even if it's just sweeping the floor while I'm doing the dishes and singing the new Train song.  She's a goodhearted gal with emotions a little too big for her britches.

5)

Alexander


Oh Kindergarten has been AMAZING for this boy!  Settled him right down!  He's still the craziest/funniest/annoyingist one at home, but at least at school he is towing the line and not ending up in the principal's office (yet!)  Alexander will tell you he's the "big brother of two" and takes that role pretty seriously.  He loves any attention his big brothers throw his way, but would be just as happy sitting by himself on the couch watching tv or playing a video game.  He is also finishing up swimming lessons right now, and has improved so much!  He was so scared of the water, but can now swim without floaties and jumps in like it's no one's business.  Like Maggie, I think swimming might be his sport of choice, which works out well since he doesn't love soccer too much.  He's only 5 so we have lots of time to discover his interests.  Maybe music?  I wish music lessons were something we could give to our kids, but we just can't do it all!  With a name like Xander Blaise, he already has the makings of a rock star ;)  Xander loves to be read to, but not any books that are scary, you know, like the classic thriller "The Big Hungry Bear".  He's so scared of that nonexistent bear!  He loves "Monster at the End of This Book", which was my childhood favorite, and can read Dr. Seuss books on his own.  He has a major fear of getting lost/left behind and needs to know the precise details of any given day to feel secure.  For instance, if I say we're going to Mass, he'll ask "Then what?" and continue on until I run out of plans for the day.  He's a precocious but tenderhearted little fellow.

6)

Declan


Oh what a joy this boy is.  I have  a thing for toddlers, because they're just so adorable!  Even when they're naughty, they can be redirected pretty easily and they just give off such unconditional love.  Declan is 2 but will tell you he's gonna be three (in April).  He has been talking non-stop about the blue present he's going to get for Christmas with a toy inside.  Sometimes he says it's a helicopter, but usually just a toy.  He's easily pleased!  His favorite show is still Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and he needs his blankie and pacifier to sleep at night.  He actually loves to go to bed to get them.  He copies Alexander's every word/movement/trait and just wants anything he has.  He's also a good big brother to Brendan, mimicking me with soothing phrases when he cries "It's ok, buddy" and sings him the ABC's.  This boy is is such a jumping bean, he loves doing anything athletically inclined and playing outside is his favorite.  Eating, however, is still a struggle.  He just grazes and has to be spoon fed to finish a meal.  It's frustrating because he is sooooo skinny!  He only weighs 26 pounds.  He loves superheroes, and calls them all Superman and makes really funny impersonations of people's faces if he sees a photo of someone.  He's a darling lovebug with the best manners of the whole crew.

7)

Brendan




Our baby boy, affectionately known as BB for Baby Brendan, is four months already! He is rolling all around the floor and loves sleeping on his tummy.  He is weaning himself from breast to bottle as apparently I can't make milk fast enough for his liking.  I would have like to nurse him through the winter season so he could get my antibodies in the milk, but I've learned to just go with the (nonexistent milk) flow.  He's 15 pounds and 24.25 inches which means he's totally average.  He loves to smile and be sung to, and just can not sleep through the night yet.  The doctor said we can start oatmeal cereal anytime we want, so we might try to put it in his last bottle to see if it helps him sleep longer.  For a totally surprise baby, sometimes I am overwhelmed by how much love I have for him.  How can a mother's heart love so many people so very much?  It's a miracle and so is he!

And that's a wrap for now, I'm hoping to squeeze in a couple more posts before the new year.  Have a very merry Christmas to you all, thanks for hanging around these parts!